Top

Archive | Concept in the news

When will we see more four-year U.S. degrees in automation engineering?

If Americans want to strengthen our manufacturing base, we need more engineering graduates who are focused on automation.

project-phasebIf Americans want to strengthen our manufacturing base, we need more engineering graduates who are focused on automation. Many schools have degrees that touch on the needs of manufacturing, but they don’t really do a deep dive into automation.

To give you a feel for the current state of affairs, when I typed into Google search “list of universities with automation degrees,” Google’s response was, “Did you mean ‘list of universities with automotive degrees?'” Then there were two ad links for automotive programs before an automation program was even listed. Not a good sign.

From my experience, many members of the higher education establishment view automation as an associate’s degree, technician-level program. They are underestimating the complexity of designing and integrating automated systems on a plant-wide basis. Automation is more than just programming or electrical engineering or mechanical engineering. It is all of these and more.

A couple of years ago, I attended a university dinner and was speaking to the dean of engineering at a major public university whose engineering program is highly regarded. I asked him why they haven’t added an automation engineering degree, or at least some related classes, to their undergraduate engineering program. He dismissively responded that automation was covered by the local community college, so the university didn’t need to provide that. What the local community college was offering was a program to train technicians to program and troubleshoot automated equipment. It wasn’t teaching how to design and integrate automation systems in a complex industrial environment.
Continue Reading →

Improving Your Manufacturing Process With a Main Automation Contractor

Manufacturers want to improve their manufacturing process, but they’re not sure where to start. Plus, they want to minimize problems at start up and get the best return on their investment.

Typically, a company will design a process, put specs together and send out RFPs. Controls is just one item on the list. Actually, focusing on controls from the beginning can save time and add value. Integrating controls from day one ensures an automation process that gets a plant up and running faster. This best practice puts a plant in full production sooner than with the traditional approach.

Manufacturers can tap into control integration expertise by using a main automation contractor, often referred to as a MAC, who takes the lead by integrating all aspects of their project, resulting in a smoother and faster start-up. In fact, our customers have shared that for every dollar they invest in this model, they saved $10 on the backend because the plant started up properly the first time.

Three factors are key to achieving these results: engaging a lead integrator early, following a well-structured methodology and tapping into deep technical resources. Together, they create alignment and ensure the plant achieves its integration goals. How does this happen? It starts with identifying and engaging all stakeholders early in the process. Sounds simple, but it takes a MAC team that knows how to work side-by-side with owners, process engineers and operators, while taking a systemic approach and collaborating with equipment suppliers.

By following a proven project methodology, all elements will be considered and addressed. The process should have three main components:

  • Getting started: Scope, project kick-off, and functional and detail design
  • Building and testing: Acceptance planning, system development, procurement & assembly, panel quality control, factory acceptance testing, and shipment
  • Final acceptance: Integration, installation, and training

Continue Reading →

Concept Systems earns FANUC recognition

from left to right: Mick Estes General Manager, Authorized System Integrator Group Sales, Marketing, and CERT Sales & Execution for FANUC; Mike Walling, Senior Engineer; Patrick Cross, Senior Engineer; Lou Finazzo, Director of Sales – Authorized System Integrator Group; Jack Gourley, Regional Engineering Manager.

from left to right:
Mick Estes General Manager, Authorized System Integrator Group Sales, Marketing, and CERT Sales & Execution for FANUC; Mike Walling, Senior Engineer; Patrick Cross, Senior Engineer; Lou Finazzo, Director of Sales – Authorized System Integrator Group; Jack Gourley, Regional Engineering Manager.

NEWS RELEASE – For Immediate Release
May 14, 2015

Albany, Ore. – Concept Systems Inc. was recently honored with two awards at FANUC America’s 16th Annual Authorized System Integrator Conference, in Orlando, Fla.

Concept Systems received an Outstanding Sales Growth award for increasing robot sales compared to the previous year and a Sales Leadership award for reaching an exemplary level of sales.

“We value our collaboration and partnership with FANUC,” said Michael Lindley, VP Sales and Marketing. “FANUC is a leader in the robotics industry, allowing Concept multiple options to address the manufacturing challenges that our clients face. Concept combines the power of the FANUC robotic platform with vision solutions to improve worker safety, increase productivity and manufacturing quality while providing a healthy ROI. We work with our clients and identify the best solution for each situation.” Continue Reading →

Boeing retools Renton plant for 737’s big ramp-up

After finishing systems installation, a Boeing 737 is prepared for wing installation at Boeing’s 737 assembly plant in Renton. (Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)

After finishing systems installation, a Boeing 737 is prepared for wing installation at Boeing’s 737 assembly plant in Renton. (Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)

Boeing is transforming its 737 plant in Renton with new automation as it prepares to ramp up production to the unprecedented rate of 52 jets per month, or even more.

Six shiny, green 737 fuselage shells, freshly delivered by train from Wichita, Kan., sit snugly cradled in a steel superstructure like giant eggs in a carton at Boeing’s Renton factory.

Underneath, swarming mechanics install the guts of each airplane — wads of insulation blankets, snaking bundles of electrical wiring, intricately intertwined metal hydraulic tubes and pumps.

But despite appearances, those fuselages aren’t trapped in steel.

Soon, the steel walkways encasing the jets will lift away like drawbridges, freeing the fuselages to slide 150 feet forward during the night into the next position in Boeing’s newest moving assembly line.

The factory, already a showcase of efficiency with its two final-assembly lines churning out 42 of the single-aisle jets monthly, is gearing up by 2018 to build them at a prodigious pace of 52 a month — and later perhaps even more.

A key step is extending the use of moving assembly lines to the back-end shops where mechanics build the wings and stuff those fuselage shells. Continue Reading →

Apple Car?

We scour the Internet for any mention of Concept Systems, and recently this one from 9to5mac.com popped up. I’m not one to pass on rumors, but this is a pretty good one so I need to share it.

One of our own, Sawyer Cohen, is said to be working on the highly secret Apple car.

Sawyer is a brilliant engineer. He worked with our Seattle team coming fresh out of Stanford, before returning to California to join Apple. Go get ‘em Sawyer! And keep us in mind when it comes time to automate the factory!

You can read more about the Apple car in this Wall Street Journal article.

The 2015 Aerospace Forecast

Robots on the rise
David Skidmore, a strategic solutions specialist at Concept Systems and a certified member of the Control System Integrators Association, says machine vision, robotics, and manufacturing intelligence are enabling the aerospace industry to automate tasks that pose safety risks for employees, are tedious, or time consuming – increasing production capacity and improving quality.

“Applications for intelligent robotics are becoming more prevalent,” Skidmore says.

Having a robot move a stack of parts allows the work cell to make active and intelligent decisions, identifying and processing the correct part rather than just pulling a part from the stack. Human interactions with robots are also a focus, with features to ensure movements, speeds, and torques for robots to integrate safely with workers.

Read the original article here.